Friday, April 29, 2011

They're Back!

Oh how I love the Javelinas! As I got up this morning and took out the recycle around 5:45 AM, I noticed that one of the 96 gallon trash cans had been upended by the Javelinas, and trash -- garbage -- was everywhere. So, there I was with a rake and a shovel cleaning up. An hour later I was sitting in my office when the Javelinas came back. Couldn't count 'em. Probably 15 or so. Big ones, lil ones. I went to see if any of our guests were up and interested. One of the guests had camera in hand and off we went. Here are a couple of photos I took before they got away:

Javelina a bit startled by me.

Mom with two babies

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Return to Ash Canyon VII

Realizing that Ash Canyon is perhaps the best place to find and photograph Lucifer Hummingbird, I decided it give it another try. Such a gorgeous hummingbird. Only found the male -- but, that was what I was looking for. I had photographed the male before, but only on the feeders or hovering about the feeders. I wanted one in a tree. Usually they fly right to the feeder -- don't stop in a nearby tree first. So, the best shot -- what you hope -- is that they will fly up into the tree above the feeder to clean their bill and rest before moving on. That is exactly what happened (once) yesterday (during the three hours I was there). Here is the result:

Male Lucifer Hummingbird cleaning his bill after feeding

Male Lucifer Hummingbird checking everything out.

Male Lucifer Hummingbird in his "hunched posture with head thrust forward.

Many of the male hummingbirds have rather straight and neat gorgets. The Lucifer, like the Calliope and the Costa's are somewhat irregular and elongated, making them standout -- and easier to identify.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Return to Ash Canyon VI

Still showing photos from Ash Canyon. Here a collection of six species photographed one afternoon:

Broad Billed Hummingbird Male

Broad Tailed Hummingbird Male

Rufous Hummingbird Young Male

Calliope Hummingbird Male

Black Chinned Hummingbird Female

Magnificent Hummingbird Male

Monday, April 25, 2011

Return to Ash Canyon V

Even the Lazuli Buntings were back -- both male and female:

Lazuli Bunting Female

Lazuli Bunting Male

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Return to Ash Canyon IV

And, nice photos of the House Finch (that we have in abundance here as well) and the Male Yellow Rumped Warbler in Breeding plumage.

House Finch Male

Yellow Rumped Warbler Male

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Return to Ash Canyon III

Once again the Bullocks and Scotts Orioles were around Ash Canyon. This time I got nice photos of both the males and the females.
Bullocks Oriole Female

Bullocks Oriole Male

Scotts Oriole Male

Scotts Oriole Female

Friday, April 22, 2011

Return to Ash Canyon II

Every once in a while we get a Black Headed Grossbeak coming through The Azure Gate. However, he seems to be a more frequent visitor to Ash Canyon. The Black Headed Grossbeak is in the same family as the Northern Cardinal and is easy to see some resemblance (although not in colors). The Black Headed Grossbeak is a migratory bird, nesting anywhere from Southwestern British Columbia and throughout the Western US -- including Southern Arizona. The Black-headed Grosbeak prefers to live in deciduous and mixed wooded areas. It likes to be in areas where there are large trees as well as thick bushes, such as patches of broadleaved trees and shrubs within conifer forests, including streamside corridors, river bottoms, lakeshores, wetlands, and suburban areas. It also seems to avoid coniferous vegetation. The Black-headed Grosbeak eats pine and other seeds, berries and insects, spiders and fruit. It is one of the few birds that can safely eat the poisonous monarch butterfly. In their wintering grounds this grosbeak consumes many monarchs and many seeds. It will come to bird feeders for sunflower and other types of seed, and fruit. Here are a couple of Male Black Headed Grossbeak photos:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Return to Ash Canyon

Ash Canyon has proved to be a great birding spot for the past month. Barring any important interruptions, I'll cover the various species for the next few days. Today, the Woodpeckers. An Acorn Woodpecker showed up and and wanted to have his photo taken. I had not seen one there before -- but, I am sure they are occasional visitors. I find them more in a little higher altitude. Next the Arizona Woodpeckers, both male and female. They have a wonderful milk chocolate back made of fine corinthian leather -- I mean feather.  And, as always the Ladderback Woodpeckers, again male and female posed for photos. There were also Gila Woodpeckers, but we have so many of them here at the Azure Gate, I passed on trying to photograph them. Anyway, here are todays photos for you:

Acorn Woodpecker

Arizona Woodpecker - Male

Arizona Woodpecker - Female

Ladderback Woodpecker - Female

Ladderback Woodpecker - Male

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On to Miller Canyon

While the rarer hummingbirds have not arrived at Miller Canyon yet (Blue Throat, White Eared, Berylline) there were still a hundred or more hummers zipping around, including the Broad Billed, Broad Tailed, Black Chinned, Anna's, Magnificent, and Rufous. Here are the Magnificent and the Rufous:

Rufous Male

Magnificent Male

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ramsey Canyon Part II

In addition to the female Calliope at Ramsey Canyon, I witnessed a young White Tail Deer eating leaves from an Arizona Oak. I thought that sequence might be fun to show today:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ramsey, Miller, and Ash Canyons

Yesterday, I got a chance to get out again. This time I headed down to Ramsey, Miller, and Ash Canyons in the Huachucas.  Starting with Ramsey Canyon, which is run by the Nature Conservancy. I was pleased to find that the NC had added additional Hummingbird feeding stations further up the creek. At least three more stations with benches close enough to get a very good look and photo. Also being up the creek more and away from the visitors center means more trees and thus more cover for the hummingbirds.  I think this one of the Calliope is my favorite of those taken at Ramsey yesterday. The Calliope is the smallest bird in North America. It has a very short tail, so the wings extend beyond the tail when folded back. 

Calliope Hummingbird

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Back to The Azure Gate and Today's Photo - 4

I got busy today and hadn't had a chance to walk around and get a photo. Then we had some friends come over for a movie night. Just after the movie started, I noticed a Bobcat walking by the side of my office. So, I grabbed the camera, and went  outside. But, he just wouldn't look at me. He walked over to a wall at which point I thought he would jump over the wall and cross the street. So, I immediately went out a nearby gate to get into position to take the photo. But, in doing so lost sight of him. I waited, and waited so more. But he never came. I thought, then, that he would walk along the inside of the wall and cross the side street. So, I quickly walked up to the corner to wait. But, nothing. Then I noticed that he was back where I originally thought he was. I was probably looking right where he was but never saw him among the cactus. He was obviously waiting for me to leave. He then jumped the wall, and crossed the street. Unfortunately now, I was out of position and never got a photo -- never saw him again. So, this is the best I can do:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ash Canyon Part IX

Saving the Turkeys for last. Finally, there were 15 Wild Turkeys wandering about the Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast. As long as I stayed still they were comfortable foraging for seeds on the grounds.  After about two hours, the male decided to put on a show for me. I thanked him. Here are my photos:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ash Canyon Part VIII

It must have been a great day at Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast because there are still more photos. I have always found warblers difficult to photograph. First, since I am deaf in one ear I can't determine the direction of sound. So hearing a bird and finding it are two different things. I must rely on sight -- which typically means movement. Then I must follow the bird until it rests before getting a photo. Probably the best warbler photos I have are of the Yellow Rumped Warbler which Sibley says is our most common warbler. But up until now they have always been solitary birds, one here or one there. At Ash Canyon they were in flocks - a dozen or more. There were mostly the Audubon's Yellow Rumped Warbler which unlike the Myrtle Yellow Rumped Warbler is found only in Western North America. The Audubon's is easily differentiated from the Myrtle's by its dark yellow throat. Both are primarily insectivorous and live in conifer and mixed woodlands. They often flit to catch insects -- as if they were flycatchers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ash Canyon Part VII

Continuing with photos from my trip to Ash Canyon and the Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast. Here are a couple of photos of the White Breasted Nuthatch which breeds in old growth forests across most of the US. It is the largest of the nuthatches preferring oak trees where it can forage for insects. It has a short tail, powerful bill, and strong legs. It moves in any direction on the tree trunk - up, down, and sideways. It is a little easier to photograph since it spends most of its time on the tree trunk and large branches.  It nests in holes in trees.  

White Breasted Nuthatch

White Breasted Nuthatch

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ash Canyon Part VI

Today, the House Finch. While these photos were taken at Ash Canyon, they could have easily have been from the Azure Gate.  The range of the House Finch is essentially all of the continental US and Mexico. Most of you will be familiar with the House Finch since it likes both urban and suburban areas. It eats grains, seeds, berries, and whatever insects might be on those food substances. They readily take to bird feeders, both seed and grain. Ours prefer the thistle feed we give our Goldfinches, but they also eat from our other feeders along with the sparrows. Here then are photos from Ash Canyon:

Adult Male House Finch

Adult Male House Finch

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ash Canyon Part V

The Chipping Sparrow is one of those LBB's (little brown birds) that becomes more colorful during breeding. Its crown goes from a dull rufous color to a much brighter red during its spring and summer breeding season. The Chipping Sparrow prefers open woodlands and specifically conifers when breeding. It  can be found throughout much of North America. They often forage on the ground eating grasses and looking for seeds and crumbs. It may also eat fresh buds and insects from trees. Here are a couple photos from my trip to Ash Canyon:

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ash Canyon Part IV

Staying with my photos from Ash Canyon for a couple more days. Today, some orioles. Both the Bullock's and the Scott's came by, often sitting in the trees behind lots of leaves and branches. Every once in a while I got a clear shot. Here is the result: 

Male Bullock's Oriole

Male Scott's Oriole

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ash Canyon Part III

Although I have seen the Black Headed Grossbeak here at The Azure it prefers deciduous and mixed wooded areas. It likes to be in areas where there are large trees as well as thick bushes, such as patches of broadleaved trees and shrubs within conifer forests, including streamside corridors, river bottoms, lakeshores, wetlands, and suburban areas. It also seems to avoid coniferous vegetation. So, I was not surprised to see it -- well, the female that is -- at Ash Canyon. Didn't see the male. It is in the same family as  the Cardinal and about the same size (maybe not quite as stocky though).

Female Black Headed Grossbeak

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ash Canyon Part II

Yesterday was the Arizona Woodpecker, today the Ladderback Woodpecker. The Ladderback is found in much of the Southwestern US, throughout Mexico, and as far south as Nicaragua. It is one of the smaller woodpeckers at 6 inches which means a bit smaller than a Cardinal. As you can see the male has a bright red crest on the head. As I was at Ash Canyon on Tuesday, both the male and female seemed to have a favorite tree they kept boring into. So I sat myself down about 10 feet away and waited. It wasn't too long before they came back and gave me some very nice photos:

Female Ladderback Woodpecker

Male Ladderback Woodpecker